We caught the final Harry Potter movie on Sunday. It was an impressive finale to the series, and they clearly made the right decision in splitting the last book across two movies so they could actually put some weight behind the story instead of just running down the bullet points. That was one of the problems I had with the fifth and sixth films

Still, I’m most impressed that the movies finished, and didn’t stop partway through the series with dwindling budgets and audience interest. His Dark Materials couldn’t get past the first film, and based on the box office, it’s pretty clear that the current Narnia films aren’t going to continue beyond Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Eight movies over a decade, adapting a complete series, and going out with a bang? That’s an impressive feat right there!

Saw The Golden Compass. Enjoyed it a lot, though it felt very rushed, and I think it would have benefitted from having the actual ending instead of cutting it off early. Here’s hoping they do well enough in the long run to greenlight the next film. Now I can re-read the books.

Also watched Tin Man. 5 stars for concept, but only 2 for execution. The Wizard of Oz meets The Dark Crystal by way of 1930s scifi was fascinating as a concept, but they managed to make it dull and tedious. The only reason I watched through to the end was it was Friday night, and I was tired enough that knew I wasn’t going to be doing anything useful with the time anyway, and I knew I could sleep in the next morning.

Speaking of Tin Man, just out of curiosity: how does one manage to have a solar eclipse during a full moon, anyway?

Saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I thought it was better than the fourth film, and up there with Prisoner of Azkaban, though Katie liked Goblet of Fire better. The main thing I would really have liked to see more of: Hogwarts in rebellion. “It unscrews the other way.”

We agreed that the preview of The Dark is Rising looks terrible. It looks like they’re turning it into an action movie. Will Stanton with magic powers?!?!? It’s sad, since Christopher Eccleston seemed like perfect casting for the Dark Rider.

Saw a second preview of The Golden Compass, though, and it looks even better than the first one we saw. They could still screw it up, but I at least have high hopes for this one. The visual look is dead-on (which was my first reaction to the very first Fellowship teaser), and it looks like they’ve stuck with the book’s concepts.

2007 looks to be a good year for fantasy adaptations, at least of books I’ve read. What I’ve seen of Stardust (Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess) looks great. I’m psyched up for His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (Phillip Pullman)—and I’ve got to say I’m glad they’re doing each book as its own movie, instead of trying to condense the whole trilogy. And Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling, as if you didn’t know) looks promising as well, though most of the Harry Potter films have suffered from condensing too much.

I’m a little more apprehensive about The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper), mainly because the IMDB page says they plan to start early this year, but the Los Angeles Times has it down for a September release. For the record, I do think this is the one to start with, not Over Sea, Under Stone, because as I recall it has a much greater sense of tension, which will translate better to screen. Plus it provides more of an introduction to the world and the conflict, since Will is dropped right in the middle of it, while I remember the other book being set more solidly in the “real” world. The Drews don’t get involved as deeply until later.

On a related note, I don’t think I’m in the target audience for The Number 23. We saw the trailer for it on Friday when we saw Pan’s Labyrinth (which is quite good, BTW), and I could not stop laughing. Not because of Jim Carrey, but because of the premise. Perhaps it comes from reading the Illuminatus! trilogy. There’s a great sequence in the book where one of the characters is starting to look for certain numbers, including 23, in everything. Of course, since he’s human, he finds them, using ever more convoluted arithmetic to prove that they’re significant. While reading Illuminatus!, I looked up stuff on synchronicity and found the tech term for this tendency to see connections where none exist: apophenia. And here I’m watching this preview, and there’s a sequence in which the lead character starts finding the number 23 in everything, using ever more convoluted arithmetic…. I don’t think I could take the premise seriously enough to get into the movie.